St. Luke’s hospital system sues Bundy, Rodriguez, People’s Rights and others

St. Luke’s downtown Boise hospital was on lockdown for about an hour in March after Ammon Bundy and others encouraged their followers to protest there about a child protection services case. (Idaho Capital Sun)

Idaho’s largest hospital system on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Ammon Bundy, Diego Rodriquez, the People’s Rights Network and others in response to “the targeted and damaging activities” surrounding a child protection case this year, according to a news release.

St. Luke’s Health System said in the release that it chose to sue over “a coordinated campaign of harassment and intimidation against St. Luke’s and its team members” and that Bundy, Rodriguez and the other defendants were “responsible for these actions …”

The lawsuit alleges false statements and defamation, trespassing on two St. Luke’s hospital campuses and “sustained online attacks,” the release said.

It says that Bundy, Rodriguez and their organizations launched “a knowingly dishonest and baseless smear campaign” that, among other things, claimed St. Luke’s “engaged in widespread kidnapping, trafficking, and killing of Idaho children.”

Bundy and Rodriguez could not be reached for comment.

Rodriguez created a website through his Freedom Man PAC organization that made allegations against St. Luke’s and Idaho’s child protection system. (The website identifies the child, whose identity the Idaho Capital Sun has chosen not to share.) More than $100,000 was donated to Rodriguez’s family through an associated fundraising campaign.

One of the plaintiffs in the complaint, filed in Ada County court, is a physician whose photo and name was shared on social media by people who opposed the decision by Idaho’s child protection system to place Rodriguez’s grandchild in foster care. The child was hospitalized for several days and treated for malnutrition and other issues.

St. Luke’s on March 15 went into lockdown for more than an hour, in response to a security threat, the health system said that day. Patients and ambulances had to be diverted from the Boise hospital, and staff and patients couldn’t enter or exit the hospital. Phone lines also were tied up around that time, as members of the public called the hospital about the case.

“It is important for us to stand up to the bullying, intimidation and disruption, and the self-serving and menacing actions of these individuals, for the protection of our employees and patients, and to ensure our ability to serve our community,” Chris Roth, president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health System, said in the release. “St. Luke’s has not been the only target of these individuals and believes that no one should be subject to such abuse. Inaction would signal this type of behavior is acceptable in our community. It is not.”

St. Luke’s asks the Fourth District Court in Ada County to order the defendants to stop “their ongoing harassment and to remove defamatory and false material they have posted and shared online and through other platforms,” the release said.

The St. Luke’s lawsuit also seeks monetary damages, but the health system plans to donate any money it receives to the Children at Risk Evaluation Service program, it said in the release.

Bundy is running as an independent candidate for governor.

This story is republished with permission from Idaho Capital Sun, part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Contact Editor Christine Lords for questions: [email protected].